Sacha Baron Cohen won't star in Freddie Mercury biopic
UPDATE: It appears we might have gotten excited over nothing—Queen guitarist Brian May posted on his website that the band’s manager Jim Beach was just throwing in “a small joke” when he claimed that Sacha Baron Cohen had officially signed on to the long-delayed project. Cohen’s rep has not returned our request for comment. The initial report is below.
A biopic starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury, the dynamic Queen frontman who died in 1991 at the age of 45 due to complications from AIDS, has been in the works for nearly seven years. It was confirmed as happening as early as 2010 and confirmed as not happening as recently as 2013—reportedly due to Cohen “not seeing eye to eye with the remaining members of Queen who have script and director approval.” Apparently the band was interested in a PG-version of the rock star’s life, while Cohen had hopes for a “gritty R-rated tell-all.”
During the project’s long gestational period, Cohen brought in the likes of Peter Morgan to write and David Fincher and Tom Hooper to direct the film, but all were rejected by the band. These differences appear to have been worked out, however, with Queen manager Jim Beach announcing that Cohen will depict the singer, as well as write, direct, and produce the film himself.
At the Artist and Manager Awards held on March 26, Beach used his acceptance speech—for the Peter Grant award for outstanding acheivement—to make the announcement. “You have probably followed the saga of the famous Queen-Freddie Mercury biopic which has been developing in Hollywood for the last seven years. An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce, and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star.”
When the film will get underway was not discussed. Cohen’s camp has yet to confirm his involvement.